March 1, 2006 at 6:54 am #48802
Just saw the Osaka show, great concert! Only two encores this time, so 16 songs in all, as follows:
Bulbs of Passion
In a Jar
Forget the Swan
Little Fury Things
Just Like Heaven
I’ll post a review later!March 1, 2006 at 8:50 am #115028
Sounds like a great show… Can’t wait for the review! Thanks!March 2, 2006 at 10:06 am #115029
OK, here’s the review:
First, a little perspective on myself as a Dinosaur fan: I bought You’re Living All Over Me, right after it came out, because I was intrigued by reviews of it. I fell in love with it and got ridiculous numbers of people into the band. I loved Bug too, but didn’t quite "get" the debut album. I was kind of disturbed when Lou left (I am a bass player, and his style on the early Dino records hugely influenced me), and I was kind of disappointed by "Green Mind," but I saw the band on the "Green Mind" tour, and they were excellent. I liked "Where You Been" quite a bit, and thought it was an improvement and more of a return to a band sound. After that, I moved to Asia and lost touch with Dinosaur and the doings of J Mascis. I remember hearinbg somewhere that Murph had left and thinking that they weren’t really the band I had fallen in love with anymore.
Anyway, flash forward 13 years, and the band I had fallen in love with reunites and is coming to my current home, Osaka Japan. So, I got tickets and bought the remasters of the 1st three albums. Bug and You’re Living sound better than ever, and I finally "get" the debut album. I’m good to go!
The concert took place in a place called the Namba Hatch, which is kind of a weird, slick theater… maybe about 1000 people or so, though I can’t really tell. The general admission area is fairly full but not packed, and I can’t see how full the upper balcony is. I was curious about what the audience would look like, but to my surprise, they are fairly non-descript… many of them seem to be in their early to mid 20’s, and are vaguely hip-looking, which describes many 20-somethings in Osaka. There are some people my age (mid to late 30’s), plus some more countercultural looking people, but not many. A few guys are in suits… they must have not had time to go home and change. I’m kind of intrigued by them–they might be the real Dino freaks, for all I know. A lot of rock shows in Japan have very distinctive audiences, but this isn’t one of them. I hear variations of the phrase "moo ijiichan ya na!" (more or less "he’s an old dude now" in Osaka’s famous earthy dialect) by which I guess they are referring to J. Mascis!
You guys know what the stage looks like: 2 mics, Marshall stacks, a few huge bass amps, and a drum kit.
The crowd gets excited and starts chanting when the lights go down, and I can tell these people are real fans. The appearance of the band gets them going even more. J. gives a weird "hellooo," Lou gives kind of a weird scream into the mic, and they go into "Gargoyle," with Lou on lead vocals. The volume is crushing, and my earplugs go in almost immediately. I’m standing far back enough so that the vocals are pretty audible. I never paid that much attention to this song on the record, but it kicks ass live. The band sounds different from how I remember them back on the "Green Mind" tour… not only is the guitar massive, but the bass as well. Everything is massive.
"Kracked" gets the audience nice and excited–a tune everyone seems to recognize. Powerful stuff. I either forgot or never knew that J. manages to play both the lead and rhythm parts during the instrumental breaks after the chorus. This song brings me to tears, and I’m glad that I came alone–I can kind of commune with whatever feelings this music brings back from my teenage years. It’s followed by a brief, punchy "Repulsion," one of the more recognizable songs from the debut, and then "Bulbs of Passion." It may sound weird, but this song is fairly new to me: my old tape of the debut album didn’t have it! It’s a great song, and the most powerful song of the night so far, with the band really going off into extended solos, and Murph playing like a wild man.
I notice something interesting–this band has the been tune-ups ever–they get these weird drones going on, and tune to it… they are very spacy little between-song jams.
"In a Jar" turns out to be totally different than the version on the record–way more aggressive. I don’t remember how (or even if) they played it on the Green Mind tour, but I think I would have remembered it being changed so much. After that comes "Budge," the first song from "Bug," and it’s a bit of a disappointment… J’s voice is cracking, and he doesn’t sing the chorus–what’s up with that? They totally redeem themselves with a KILLER, crushing version of "Post," one of my favorite Dino tunes ever. This is, in my opinion, the most Neil Young-ish song J ever wrote, a perfect update of "Down By the River." I love the bass, almost ridiculously distorted, and J drawls the chorus perfectly. More major blast-from-the-past feelings.
After that, we get "Forget the Swan," again, more intense than the studio version. This is a really complex tune, but they pull it off well. I really love the J. and Lou vocal interplay on this one. At one point, they have worked themselves up into a maelstrom of noise, and are repeating "Forget the Swan," after each other–nice stuff. I move over, a little toward the Lou side of the stage, and there are some women with closed eyes, communing with the music–I like to see that kind of thing. "Little Fury Things" follows, and gets a bit audience reaction. Such a perfect song, so affecting, and it almost seems too short here. It’s good to hear Lou’s screams and the vocal harmonies are great. It’s amazing that these guys and pull harmonies off with this kind of volume… they must have good monitors.
The rest of the set proper is all "You’re Living Over Me" stuff… A raging, ragged version of the hugely-underrated "Lose," with Lou’s vocals sometimes getting overcome by the band, "Raisans," one of their most passionate, messed-up songs, and another one that gets me emotional. It’s also also one of the only songs that they really do extended solos on.
After that, J. thanks the audience and leaves, but Lou says, in a comical voice "Hey, there’s another song on this setlist… The setlist says "Sludgefeast on it!" J. and Murph return, and "Sludgefeast" rips out. It seems that the energy and volume are kicked up a notch–this one really rages, with some real aggression going on. J. and Lou both commune with their collections of amps–amazing that either of them can hear at all, and Murph is bashing away. A very good closer to the set proper.
The band returns to the stage in almost no time at all, J does his voice "Hellooo" and Lou screams again, and, just like in the beginning of the show, and a loose, yet concise version of "Freak Scene" follows, to predictable joy on the part on the audience. Lou tries to sing some of the harmonies, but gets distracted by his bass.
By this time, I’ve pushed my way up to the edge of the mosh pit… looks like a fun, nice, friendly mosh pit, but I don’t feel like getting in it. "Lung" follows, and includes some more extended solos. The second encore starts with a tight version of "Just Like Heaven." It ends right on Lou’s scream on the beginning of what would be the second chorus… funny how they just made that little screw-up a permanent part of the song.
The last song is "The Wagon," and it’s one of the better songs of the night, and way better than the recorded versions. I remember buying the single of The Wagon (was it on Sub-Pop???) way back when, well before Green Mind came out, and liking it, but thinking "the bottom is GONE!" but this version has the bottom in full effect. J. and Lou sound great together on the "You won’t see me" falsettos, and the audience is singing along–one of the few songs where people really seemed to know the words. It’s a good, happy way to end the show. After that, it’s over… the audience does its best to get another racket going, but the lights go up. The whole thing is over too fast, in my opinion, but I can’t blame those guys: they put a lot of sweat, blood, and whatever remains of their hearing into this kind of show. Long may they lumber!March 2, 2006 at 1:09 pm #115030
great review ! thanks.March 3, 2006 at 10:28 am #115031
Really nice review. I share the same sentiments re: the band/reunion/live experiences. Wish I could voice mine as well as you do.March 4, 2006 at 7:12 pm #115032
Forgot to ask … what does the "AX" mean in Japanese, if anything ? The reason I ask is that there was a very famous club in Chicago called Lounge Ax and I never knew why they named it that.
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